By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The 36th Wing bid farewell to Brig. Gen. Paul R. Fast, and welcomed Brig. Gen. Thomas B. Palenske during a change of command ceremony on June 30. Palenska assumed command of five groups, 18 squadrons and 22 primary tenant organizations executing U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s Bomber Task Force, Theater Security Packages, Tanker Task Force, contingency response and Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Operations from the most forward sovereign U.S. Air Force base in the Indo-Pacific Region. U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. David Nahom, commander of the 11th Air Force, presided over the change of command ceremony and transferred the wing’s guidon from Fast to Palenske, symbolizing the passing of responsibility and authority. During his speech, Nahomthanked Fast for his exceptional leadership during command and said that his efforts and dedication make the U.S. Air Force the best in the world. Fast also led the men and women of the 36th Wing through one of the strongest storms in 20 years. Typhoon Mawar left a destructive path across the island of Guam damaging facilities and equipment on Andersen AFB. “Though Speedy must depart before the work is complete,” said Nahom. “I have confidence that the airmen of the 36th Wing and the community will be in great hands with Brig. Gen. Tom Palenske.” As installation commander, Palenske is responsible for the well-being of more than 8,000 joint service members, civilian personnel, dependents and contractors on Andersen AFB. Additionally, he supports the Department of Defense installation management of Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands as the deputy commander of the Joint Region Marianas. “To the men and women of the 36th Wing, thank you for your incredible stewardship of the most strategically important base in the world,” said Palenske. “It will be my goal to become the lead blocker that you all deserve. I look forward to working with you all.” Palenske came to the 36th Wing from the Pentagon, Washington D.C., where he served as assistant vice commander, Headquarters U.S. Special Operations Command.
Keeping with the 36th Wing change of command tradition, Fast also passed the “swagger stick” to Palenske. Maj. Gen. Charles J. Bondley, Jr., designed the original emblem for the 36th Wing, then known as the 36th Pursuit Group, in 1940 when he was a first lieutenant, and had the emblem officially emblazoned on the swagger stick. The stick signifies strength and the legacy of honor that all airmen represent and is passed from commander to commander. It has since been a proud tradition that has endured for 80 years and will continue to do so into the future.
Fast will be returning to serve as the Mobilization Assistant to the Deputy Commander of Pacific Air Forces, Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii, as well as his civilian career as a senior project manager in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.